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NFPs Shouldn’t Fear Digital Advertising

16 June 2016 at 11:04 am
Richenda Vermeulen
Even the most successful charities are losing thousands of dollars in donations by failing to harness the power of digital advertising, writes Richenda Vermeulen, director of digital consultancy ntegrity.

Richenda Vermeulen | 16 June 2016 at 11:04 am


NFPs Shouldn’t Fear Digital Advertising
16 June 2016 at 11:04 am

Even the most successful charities are losing thousands of dollars in donations by failing to harness the power of digital advertising, writes Richenda Vermeulen, director of digital consultancy ntegrity.

digital fundraising

When you’ve done almost 100 digital audits for Not For Profits, you start to see that Australian charities are mostly making the same mistakes just in different packaging.

Despite being influential, well-funded organisations with great causes, they’re usually losing thousands in online donations, thinking about their email database in the wrong way, and not investing in internal tools and processes to make limited resources go further. And, they’re usually underestimating the power of digital advertising.

Come appeal time, you’re likely to see the city plastered with campaign ads, from trains to trams, billboards and magazines. But this game is only won by those with the biggest budgets, and there are only so many trains in one city. Digital advertising offers far better ROI and is actually measurable so you know what’s working and what’s not.

But, most Aussie NFPs aren’t using this strategically if at all. Here are the four most common mistakes NFPs make with digital advertising.

  1. They’re wasting free money

NFPs have access to US$10,000 (A$13,486) free advertising money with Google AdGrants, but some don’t know this, and many more aren’t using it strategically. And it gets better: if you manage your AdGrants account well, you’re then eligible for Grantspro – US$40,000 (A$53,955) worth of advertising money each month.

This freebie comes with limitations, so you need to know how to work within these. Firstly, use up all your spend each month it doesn’t roll over. Secondly, don’t spend all your money on highly competitive keywords if you’re only going to show up on the second or third page of search results. Third, get a paid AdWords account to supplement your AdGrants account: this will allow you to make higher bids on more competitive keywords, for a well-rounded strategy.

We’ve seen clients get a return of 14:1 on search engine marketing at campaign-time, so it’s an investment well worth making.

  1. The donations page is not easy to use, compelling and mobile friendly

If a user arrives on a page and doesn’t find what they were promised in an advertisement, it’s likely they’ll leave straight away. That’s why we often see an incredibly high bounce rate for digital advertising activity.

Ensure you clearly state why they should donate and where their money will go without overwhelming them with too much information. Make your value proposition clear, short and compelling and use visuals as much as possible.

Also, whether you’re driving users via search or social advertising, there’s a chance up to half will be mobile users. Make sure the page they land on is mobile-friendly and easy to use.

  1. They set up campaigns and then walk away

One of the biggest strengths of search engine marketing and social advertising is the fact that they work within a live and changing environment. So, the more you optimise, the better your ROI becomes and the less you have to spend! It also means you don’t have to get the creative exactly right on the first go. We call this a “test and learn” approach.

But, too many NFPs set up their campaigns and never touch them again. If you’re using an agency, ask them how often they optimise and what exactly they do. They should be able to give you a clear picture of what they’ve tested and what they’ve discovered about what works and what doesn’t as a result.

  1. Remember: campaigns alone aren’t enough

Although it’s the main mode of marketing for Aussie NFPs, the truth is that living in campaign mode is dangerous.

Consider this: your users are online 24/7/365 shouldn’t you be too? In reality, your campaigns mean very little to them. They make decisions based on what message resonates most with them, where they believe they’ll have the biggest impact and what suits them best in terms of convenience.

A successful advertising strategy is one that doesn’t stand on its own: it should be supported by regular, valuable and relevant content across all your digital channels. But a truly great (and more sustainable) advertising strategy is one that’s part of a holistic, “always on” digital strategy.

An always on strategy acknowledges that humans don’t live in campaign mode, and so brands shouldn’t either. It creates awareness and generates donations all-year-round so you have a more sustainable revenue stream that isn’t solely reliant on campaigns. And it also means that when campaign time does come around, your audience is already primed to give and a donation ask doesn’t feel so jarring.

If you’d like to know more about how to maximise your digital marketing with an audit, strategy or management tailored specifically to your organisation, get in touch here.

About the author: Richenda Vermeulen is the director of ntegrity, a digital consultancy that helps NFPs implement innovative solutions to improve fundraising and communications. Prior to ntegrity, Vermeulen spent 12 years in the Not for Profit sector, from frontline social work to launching social media marketing at World Vision Australia and World Vision USA.

Richenda Vermeulen  |  @RichendaG

Richenda Vermeulen is the founder and CEO of ntegrity, a modern fundraising agency that works with hundreds of Australian and global not for profits and for-purpose organisations.

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